Mr. President, I am here to talk about the DACA program--Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Something really important in my state. We actually have 6,000 kids that have gone through that program. As we all know, 800,000 young people who have lived in the U.S. since childhood are included and affected by this recent action by the Administration, which I strongly oppose.
These dreamers were brought to the United States as children through no fault of thier own, and they are working hard to educate themselves and contribute to our nation. In fact, more than 97 percent of DACA recipents are now in school or the worforce. And all DACA recipients are required to meet the program's education requirements. One recent study found that 72 percent of all DACA recipients currently in school are pursuing a bachelor's degree or higher. And according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, more than 100 students with DACA status applied to medical school last year.
The young people who have benefitted from DACA have often been in our country almost their entire lives after being brought here as children. They are valuable members of our community, and they have contributed to our economy and to the fabric of our society. In fact, one recent study estimated that ending this policy would cost the country over $400 billion in the next ten years. Ending DACA, which has been in place since 2012, which would create uncertainty and deportation for nearly 800,000 Dreamers across our nation.
When I think of the Dreamers, I think of the night the Judiciary Committee, on a bipartisan basis, passed comprehensive immigration reform. There were Dreamers there late at night with tears streaming down their faces. And then I think of the time that President Obama put DACA into place and made it so they could come forward, sign up, and legally work. And now we're going to turn our backs on those same people. Those people who were brought here through no fault of their own, who we basically as a country, whether or not the current Administration disagrees with the past Administration, our country made a commitment to them that they could sign up to this program.
And back when we passed comprehensive immigration reform, it felt like our committee--the senators who voted for that bill, Democrats and Republicans--made a commitment to them that day that we were going to work on their behalf. This is why this is so wrong. And I do appreciate that this morning the President said that he wants to work to pass this bill and that he said that the DACA young people don't have to worry over the next six months about any actions taken against them. Those are, of course, good things. I just wish it had not happened in this way, but it did.
I am also not surprised that so many people have stood up in support of Senator Durbin and Senator Graham's bill. That so many Republicans and Democrats and other leaders have stood up.
As we discuss the fate of young people under DACA, I'm reminded of someone who is not young. Joseph Medina, a decorated Army veters, an immigrant who just celebrated his 103rd birthday this July. He is 103 years old. So when I found him, he was a young 99 years old. The reason I found him is that we were talking about this very issue--about DACA and about kids actually today who want to serve in the military now. Of course they won't be able to if they are deported. Just to think that we are maybe going to deport people who are currently in the military.
One hundred-and-three years ago, Joseph Medina came to the United States from Mexico when he was five years old. He didn't know he was brought into our country. He was brought across the border by his aunt and stepfather. He didn't know he was born outside of the U.S. He lived in Minnesota until he was in an Army bootcamp in 1944. At that time, Joseph Medina wanted to serve our country, but he found out he was actually undocumented. So back then, in his own words to me he said, "Well, back then, the Army wanted us. The Navy wanted us. And so what did we do back then? We would go to Canada under the guidance of our military for one night." And he said he got to stay in a nice hotel and came back and was actually a legal citizen. I didn't look into how they did that, but that's what they did.
What did Joseph Medina do? He served our country under General MacArthur in the Pacific. After he bravely came back after serving our country, he got married and had a boy. I met that guy now. That guy served in the Vietnam War. So you have a dad who served our country in World War II, and you have a son who served our country in Vietnam all because at that time there were people who said, "You know what, you were not brought over with any knowledge that you were even being brought over. You were only five-years-old." They didn't deport him when he wanted to serve in our military. They made him a citizen.
So Joseph Medina came out here to Washington, DC, for the first time to see the World War II Memorial. I stood with him, along with two Dreamers--high school students who wanted to sign up and serve in the Air Force. But they were barred from doing that under the way our laws worked at the time. So I am proud of Joe's service, but I even want more that Joe's spirit, his devotion to our country can continue on and be passed onto other generations.
That's what this Dream Act is all about. It's all about allowing other kids who were brought into this country without their knowledge or understanding what was happening and allowing them to be part of that American dream. America is a country created by immigrants. Immigrants have been part of our nation's greatest achievements, and we need to fix our broken immigration system. Of course we do. That's why I supported comprehensive reform so we would have money for order at the border, which created a very, very long path to citizenship. But that also had a moral compass to that bill.
As well know, despite the bipartisan support in the Senate, the House failed to act. I like to point out to people, 70 Fortune 500 companies are headed by immigrants. Twenty-five of the U.S. Nobel Laureates--twenty-five were born in other countries.
In my own case, my great grandparents on my dad's side came over from Slovenia to wokr in the iron ore mines. And my dad had to quit school to raise his eight or nine brothers. He saved money in a coffee can to send my dad to college. On the other side, my mother's parents, my grandparents, came over from Switzerland. My grandpa came over when he was 18. He was detained at Ellis Island because they had reached their quota of Swiss immigrants, so he put on his form that he was going to Canda. He did go to Canada, but he didn't stay in Canada, and he somehow got through to Wisconsin and was there as an undocumented alien and lived that way for 20 years, married my grandma, had my mom and her brother. And then when World War II came along, they required those aliens to register. So he had to register and that's when they found out how he had come in, and they still said he was okay to register. And then he was emboldened and he decided to sign up for citizenship. That's when they really looked into it. He made his case, lived there forever, had two kids, worked his entire time at a pie shop, and they gave him citizenship. I still have the picture of his shining face with that bow tie.
I wonder what would have happened if he came forward today. I'm not sure that he would have been made a citizen despite the long time he has spent in our country. Now it has happened on both sides. Well, my dad ended up being a newspaper man. He interviewed Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, and Mike Ditka. My mom became a teacher and taught second grade until she was 70-years-old. And I became a United States Senator. That is the story of an immigrant. My grandpa was in an uncertain status when he came into the United States.
You ask why I support these Dreamers? Because I had Dreamers in my own family. I am pleased that so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have spoken out in support of DACA. It is essential that we now pass this legislation to protect these Dreamers. I stand ready to work with my Republican colleagues. I want to thank Senators Durbin and Graham for their leadership. Let's get this done.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.